Auberge Willow Inn in Hudson has recently completed a makeover and the new ‘look’ is quite beautiful. The cuisine continues to be exceptional and together with the unique setting, make the Willow ideal for a destination visit!
This historic venue was originally a private home, built back in 1820 and it has seen some different uses (store, hotel & pub) before becoming an Inn. (nb. In 1989 the main building succumbed to a fire and was rebuilt in the following six months!). The name is certainly a nod to the many willow trees growing in the area, and numerous willows used to grace the property around the Inn. Many people have come and gone through the doors of the Willow Inn, whether for a summer job or for a memorable evening.
Take David Ades and Patricia Wenzel, a couple who, for over 40 years, would come to the Auberge to enjoy romantic evenings with wonderful conversations. « They have always loved this place and I remember them describing it in mythical terms. As children, we weren’t allowed to go with them because it was their special spot for their romantic dates, » says Vanessa Ades. In November 2016, the Willow Inn came up for sale so David and Patricia stopped by for one last visit. Neither of them come from the hospitality industry, yet something in the space attracted them and they could certainly sense a good deal. Patricia contacted the owner, and a few months later, David and Patricia were the proud new owners of Auberge Willow Inn!
They have supervised an overhaul and complete updating of the dining room, kitchen and rooms. « It was important for us to re-introduce the Willow Inn to everyone, using our own memories and touches, but without detracting from the beautiful structure and history, just refesh the spaces. » The company ‘La Firme’ was given the task to fulfill the wishes of David and Patricia and they have, without a doubt, succeeded! Everything memorable about the Willow has been retained but new, refined touches have been included. There are three seating areas each with a different style, starting with a somewhat intimate area that segues into a bar space with a TV screen, then leads into a 120-seat dining area which opens up to an unobstructed view of the Lake of Two Mountains. And outside is an enormous terrace that offers another 125 seats. This is what you get when your property is located at the water’s edge. The Willow also boasts private reception rooms that are amenable for different kinds of events and can accommodate up to 120 guests.
If the view is breathtaking and the decor attractive, we also come here because we want to eat well! « It was essential for us to talk with people in the restaurant business and to surround ourselves with those who know it well. That’s how we met Shaun. » Shaun Hughes was the executive chef at the Willow. Originally from the town of Hudson, he worked at the Willow Inn when he was a teenager and is aware of its importance to the community and beyond. After years of service, he went another direction, but the Willow Inn got a great team of chefs who now create the menu!
Shaun prepares a menu of exquisite classic and original dishes. As starters, the house offers several salads, a lot of fish and seafood prepared in their own way, gazpacho and homemade charcuterie. As dishes, you can find as many classics as hamburger (prepared with minced meat on demand, homemade mayonnaise and homemade rolls), ribs and short ribs, as well as duck confit, cod, rack of lamb, shrimps and salmon. All the ingredients are full of flavours, and thanks to the chef’s creativity and ability to mix tastes and products, the results are surprising yet delicious — thanks for the invite! So much of what comes out of the kitchen is made in house and prepared with great care.
The wine list is the collaboration between David Ades and Andrew Korol and the cocktails have been created by Draho Chytry (Burgundy Lion, Bishop and Baggs, Bar George).
« It is important for us to offer the town and area of Hudson a different experience, something that isn’t available in Montreal … just look at our breathtaking view of the lake, the beauty of the house itself, the effort put into the cuisine, I hope we succeeded! » Auberge Willow Inn has succeeded. It is a lovely dining space with a gorgeous view and worth coming the few extra minutes from Montreal, if not just for a change of pace but most of all for the wonderful dining!
Nb. In sourcing its products, Willow Inn works together with several small farms (ie. la Ferme Sanglier Rôdeur à Pointe Fortune, le Moulin des Cèdres, Partnership Bœuf Quèbec Beef-Lauzon Meats, Viandes et Plus-Hudson et Terrebonne, Laiterie Chagnon, Èlevage Plume des Champs, Les Jardins Carya, Les Jardins Barry inc., Hudson Food Collective).